It was hard to wake up this morning. Today was my first day of riding the bus to and from school and class started at 9 a.m. and I felt a need to get up at 6 to be sure to get ready and get to the bus stop on time. I got to class early, and my teacher was twenty minutes late, so I think I can sleep in until at least 6:30 this morning.
I listened to my pray as you go podcast as I walked to the bus stop (on a delightfully cool morning, cool enough I donned a cardigan). I had to restart the Gospel reading four times because I found it so bizarre I couldn’t absorb it. Here it is folks:
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?’ He said, ‘Yes, he does.’ And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others’, Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offence to them, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.’
What do you make of it?
I was scratching my head on the bus as I turned this story over and over, wondering how it is I took a whole class on the Gospel of Matthew and have no memory of this story. And then I started listening to an old episode of Speaking of Faith. But as I was listening I was struck by the number of broad smiles all around me. Everyone who was getting on the bus, early on a Monday morning seemed thrilled to be alive. Not everyone and not necessarily thrilled, but I saw so much joy in my commute to school this morning. At the downtown transfer stop I watched someone come off a bus, catch sight of someone and practically dance across the street to them. And then on the ride to school from downtown a man boarded the bus with a toddler in a stroller. That toddler kept making eyes at anyone he could and grinning the toothiest grin you’ve ever seen. An older Latino man was sitting next to me and kept giggling as he swapped smiles with this young one. He said something to me that I didn’t quite catch so I turned off my podcast and said “It feels really special to be noticed by a kid, doesn’t it?” He sheepishly smiled and then said “Yeah. It does.” And then he grinned at the grinning boy again.
Last night we had two fabulous dinner guests over, a classmate and his marvelous wife. We had great food, great conversation, and a great game of Nertz! We talked over dinner about happiness, and about the fact that for some people this is what they wish for their loved ones, but that for us it is tough to say that we’re happy all the time. Grateful to be alive, yes. Content, maybe. But happy? We talked about the different ways of understanding this word.
And then, I saw happy everywhere I looked this morning. And, you know, it’s a good thing.